THE British government had a successful week in the House of Commons, winning votes on identity cards and the inclusion of “glorifying terrorism” as an offence in anti-terrorist legislation, despite defections from its own MPs. In a free vote, the Commons approved a total ban on smoking in public places. Despite denials, rumours continued to circulate that Mr Blair and Mr Brown were running a “dual premiership” in anticipation of the latter's move to No 10 in the fairly near future.

Mr Brown continued to burnish his reputation by making speeches on all manner of topics outside his current ministerial responsibilities. l Pictures from a video of British soldiers beating four Iraqi teenagers following a riot in Basra in 2004 were published in the News of the World and later shown on television. Ausralian TV showed new pictures of American soldiers abusing Iraqis at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in 2003. The trial of Saddam Hussein continued with frequent interruptions from the former dictator who on one occasion shouted to the judge, “God damn your moustache”. Ibrahim al-Jaafari was chosen by the majority United Iraqi Alliance to be prime minister of the new Iraqi government; however, the formation of a coalition is expected to last three months. l In the United States, a House of Representatives committee, comprised entirely of Republicans, issued a damning report on the govenment's response to Hurrican Katrina and singled out the White House and the Homeland Security department for particular criticism.

The State Department set up a task-force on Internet freedom following criticism of US internet companies which have agreed to censor their services in China in order to obtain permission to operate there. Shares in Google, one of the companies involved with China, fell sharply to below $345 as investors suspected that the firm's advertising revenue is falling below expectations. l Mr Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, said: “I am the Jesus Christ of politics, a patient victim. I put up with everything. I sacrifice myself for everyone.” Mr Dick Cheney, the Vice-President of the United States, shot a lawyer friend while on a quail hunt, leaving pellets in the victim's face and heart. In New York 26.9 inches of snow fell, the most since recording began in 1869.